STAR-BULLETIN / JULY 2006
The Sea-Based X-Band Radar platform, shown here off Keehi Lagoon, will return to Pearl Harbor this month for scheduled maintenance and previously planned system upgrades. CLICK FOR LARGE
Return of the Radar
The Sea-Based X-Band Radar will get system upgrades and maintenance at Pearl Harbor
THE LARGE missile defense radar unit resembling a giant golf ball will return as a part of the Oahu skyline this month from its base in Alaska.
The Sea-Based X-Band Radar is to get scheduled maintenance and previously planned system upgrades.
BAE Shipyards at Pearl Harbor won the maintenance and upgrade contract after a competitive bidding process, the Missile Defense Agency said Thursday in a news release. It could be at the shipyard for several months.
The radar's large white sphere is mounted on a converted oil rig platform, giving it a height about equal to a 28-story building.
It's so big, it likely will become visible from Honolulu several hours before it enters Pearl Harbor.
The $815 million radar unit is a key part of the missile defense shield the military is setting up in the Asia-Pacific region to defend the United States and its allies against long-range missiles, particularly ones North Korea might launch.
The radar will be used to identify and track incoming missiles that could be intercepted by missiles based in Alaska and California.
The agency says the radar is so powerful it can identify baseball-size objects from thousands of miles away.
The radar might head out to sea during its stay in Hawaii to participate in a test of the ground-based missile defense system but would return to Pearl Harbor to complete its scheduled work.
The radar is home-ported at Adak, a former naval station about 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage. About 75 crew members are stationed there with the radar.
The giant golf ball became a familiar sight on Oahu last year when it stopped in Hawaii on its way to Alaska from Texas, where it was assembled by Boeing and Raytheon.
The radar then had to return to Pearl Harbor in April, several weeks after initially setting sail for Alaska, after water leaked through its ballast piping.
The problem affected the radar platform's ability to partially submerge and re-emerge from the water, requiring repairs.